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archive for baking

crank it up

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Recipe: cranberry walnut pepita sourdough boule

Autumn feels good. We are starting to see frost patterns on our deck and I don’t have to take my jacket off when we go hiking because it remains nice and cool. Denver Erin and I spotted a majestic bull elk and a handful of elk cows and young bulls on our way to a trailhead one morning. Hiking through dark pine forests dotted with brilliant sunlit golden aspens on a chilly morning and hearing the not-so-distant piercing call of bull elk bugling from every direction is pretty freaking awesome. There are fewer people on the trails now and the woods carry that slightly fermented odor of decomposing leaves. Most leaf peepers stay in their cars or wander no more than 100 feet past the trailhead and I’m fine with that. Yuki is putting in her hiking miles and earning her Colorado mountain dog status.


on our way to some alpine lakes

pausing for a view over the valley

yuki and neva love their hikes

some nice orange aspens to match neva’s harness



It’s finally bread season around here. I haven’t lived with air conditioning since I left for college almost 30 years ago. As someone who is particularly mindful of the heat (I hate it), I’m quite dialed in to the moods of the weather. The oven and my sourdough starter have been more or less neglected since June until this week. As I type, I have a batch of sourdough autolysing in the kitchen to make sourdough baguettes and a b√Ętard! I’ve also been looking forward to making this cranberry walnut pepita sourdough bread again. It all begins with some sourdough starter. For those who are new to the sourdough game, ripe sourdough starter means your starter has been fed and allowed time (for me, it’s 8 hours on the counter) to produce some lovely gas bubbles. Use this starter to make the levain. My typical schedule is to mix the levain the night before and let it sit overnight, then start on the dough the next morning. The levain should be bubbly.

the levain: water, bread flour, whole wheat flour, ripe sourdough starter

mix it all together so there is no dry flour

the levain the next morning



In the original recipe, Maurizio used a little rye flour in the dough. I did, too. I think in the future, I’ll probably stick to a combination of just bread flour and whole wheat flour, but it’s in the recipe below with the option of substituting whole wheat for the rye (it’s a small amount). I also halved the recipe to make one 1-pound loaf instead of two loaves and added pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

levain, water, pepitas, dried cranberries, walnuts, whole wheat flour, bread flour, rye flour, salt



Stir the levain into most of the water (some has to be reserved for dissolving the salt later). If the levain is nice and bubbly, it should float (because bubbles). Once the levain has mostly dissolved, mix in the flours. You can use a sturdy mixing spatula, spoon, or the handy dandy dough whisk, but be sure that you don’t have any dry pockets of flour. Cover your dough vessel with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. I use plastic wrap because our humidity is quite low. Let that autolyse (absorb the liquid) for 40 minutes.

dissolve the levain in the water

stir in the flours

mix well then autolyse



**Jump for more butter**

i spoke too soon

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Recipe: baked huckleberry doughnuts

Remember when I was rejoicing over the cooler weather last week? I went shopping for all manner of ingredients to make soups and stews only to learn that this week is going to be hot as hell (again). Well, I made my soups and stews anyway, because I’m stubborn like that. I put some in the freezer as a favor to Future Me, but it’s nice to eat with a spoon again! Even with highs hitting the lower 80s (don’t laugh – we’re at 8500 feet above sea level!), the days are shorter which means the house has more time to radiate its heat away at night. This is good. I’m ready for the autumnal equinox!


the leaf litter gets prettier by the day



Amazingly, the wildfire smoke has kept away for over a week. This means more time outside for the pups to hike and for us to verify that we need not expend any more energy mushroom hunting. And we saw my folks off this weekend as they left for Virginia. I feel as if the winding down of summer’s hectic demands means I can focus a little more. I’m reining in our eating habits, putting regular exercise back on the schedule, and setting training goals for Yuki so we can all be ready come ski season.

pausing off trail

neva waits patiently as jeremy investigates a potential mushroom

dinner out with mom and dad before they flew home



While taking inventory of the chest freezer, I was delighted to see I had collected a good many huckleberries this summer. It’s enough to get me through next summer just in case it turns out to be a bad year. I often seek out recipes that don’t require a lot of huckleberries, but still deliver the essence of the huckleberry. Huckleberry cheesecake ice cream is a great example of such a recipe. Another is baked huckleberry doughnuts. I think we can all agree that baked doughnuts are not the same as fried doughnuts. Baked doughnuts are more like cake in doughnut form with glazes or sprinkles or dustings. It’s all good in my book.

huckleberries, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar, vegetable oils, baking soda, salt, buttermilk

mix the dry ingredients

mix the wet ingredients

stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients



If you are lucky enough to make these doughnuts with fresh huckleberries, you can fold the berries into the batter straight away. If you are using frozen huckleberries, I would recommend tossing the frozen berries with some flour so that they all get coated, then folding those into the batter. The flour helps to prevent the juice from bleeding too much as you fold in the fruit. If you don’t care about potentially turning the batter purple, then go for it. Same applies for blueberries if you choose to substitute them for the huckleberries.

fold in the berries

fill the greased and floured doughnut pans

baked and possibly overfilled, but i rarely miss the hole in a doughnut

cool on a rack



**Jump for more butter**

the season of the peach

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Recipe: bourbon peach cobbler

If it feels like my posts are all about the puppy of late, you are not wrong. Even before we brought Yuki home, anyone could tell that our dogs play a large part in our lives. Now with two dogs, it is oddly more work and less work, simultaneously. But we learn what activities are manageable with this two-dog dynamic and what things we should probably rethink. SUPing with Yuki and Neva amounted to a Chinese fire drill, but the important thing is that they had a good time and no one was traumatized… much. Because Yuki is over 6 months old, we thought we would introduce her to running. It varies based on breed, size, and other factors, but dogs shouldn’t start running distance until they are a year old or 18 months old for large dogs, so that it doesn’t impede their joint and structural development. Jeremy leashed up both pups and went for a short half-mile run around the neighborhood (stopping to check mail and pick up poops) and Yuki LOVED it. We think she’ll get a kick out of skate skiing, backcountry skiing, and uphill skiing this winter! It’s fun to observe the difference between Neva’s elegant, efficient stride and Yuki’s floppy, bouncy, puppy romp.


a rare moment of neva sitting still on the standup paddleboards

yuki having a blast running with her pack



We were in Crested Butte last week and were careful not to embark on long or strenuous hikes due to the terrible air quality. The smoke from those big California wildfires kept streaming into our beautiful mountain air thanks to the atmosphere. But we still got out each day for training and adventures with our two goofballs.

yuki’s first interpretation of the command “hop up!”

sitting nicely so she can jump down from the car and start hiking

sharing wild strawberries with my two girls (they love them)



We have experienced more smoky days than clear days on the Front Range and in Crested Butte this summer. It’s depressing on so many levels as it reduces a lot of our outdoor activities like big mountain hikes, long trail runs, or mountain bike rides. You can’t help but feel empathy and sadness for the folks devastated by the wildfires in other western states as well as Colorado. Early mornings tend to have slightly better air quality, so that’s when we are active. By mid morning, the smoke usually creeps in – obscuring the surrounding peaks and injecting an off odor into the air. It doesn’t smell like campfires. It smells like destruction.

I’ve been keeping indoors most afternoons to get work done. That means I have Colorado Public Radio (CPR) streaming over the speakers while I work. I am a public radio news junkie. One day I heard a little plug for the best peach cobbler recipe on CPR and went online in search of said recipe. It looked promising because it called for 12.5 ounces of bourbon. That’s my kind of cobbler. It’s peach season here in Colorado – our Palisade peaches are the best I’ve ever tasted. I figured peach cobbler would be a great way to take my mind off of the lousy smoke-filled air.


for the filling: bourbon, sugar, vanilla bean pod, peaches, lemon, cornstarch, salt



I don’t know very much about bourbon, but I do know enough not to use fancy drinking bourbon for most of my cooking endeavors. I buy large quantities of affordable bourbon for baking, marinades, and grilling. Since this bourbon gets simmered down with peaches and a lot of sugar, save your good bourbon for other occasions. Also, I used a 3-quart saucepan in the photos to cook my peaches, but in the future I will upgrade to a larger pot to avoid sloshing of syrupy peachy bourbony goodness on the stove.

sliced and pitted peaches, split and scraped vanilla pod, zested and juiced lemon

adding the peaches to the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla

pouring the bourbon



**Jump for more butter**